Why Should I Give When I’ve Got Bills To Pay

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Luke 15:1-10

I can remember when I got my first lawnmower. I was about 12 years old. My mother wanted me to be able to learn how to earn money and to work for myself. I’m not sure how she managed to scrape the money together to buy me that lawnmower.

We lived in Dublin Ga, and there were plenty of yards up and down the street that I could possibly cut. My mom wanted me to not only learn the discipline of work, she wanted me to be happy and to have some spending money in my pocket. She was thrilled when she presented the lawnmower to me. She could see the happiness in my face and I in hers.

I could see little dollars dancing in my head. She then asked me, “how much would I be able to give her toward the lawnmower. “ I told her well, I have to buy gas, I have to buy oil, and I have to by some things for myself, but if there was something left over, I would give her some of it. All the joy in her face disappeared, and she slowly walked away.

I realize now today, that I probably hurt my mom more in that instant, that I had ever done before. She had made this huge sacrifice for me, and all I was willing to offer to her were parts of my leftovers. I did not fully understand the gift I had been given and the cost that she had paid.

Suppose for a moment you took in a friend or a family member who was just plain down and out. They had no money, no food, no anything. You took care of them for a year. They finally got a job. You noticed one day, they had put a 60 inch tv in the bedroom you let them use.

You noticed a new i-phone, I pad, and the expensive ear buds for their music. You noticed the nice new designer jeans that had perfectly cut holes in them. You realize they have been their spending money, but are still eating, sleeping, and using your utilities as before.

Finally you tell them, “Look, I want you to start paying for some rent and food?” How would you feel, if they told you, “I love you and I appreciate all you have done for me, but I can’t pay rent, I’ve got bills to pay. Look at all this stuff in my room. I was wondering if I could put some stuff in your basement.” What would you want to say to them.

Do you know the number one reason most followers of Christ give little or nothing to the Lord financially. They say, It’s because they say they don’t have enough to give. They have too many bills to pay. Let me ask you this, “When you have too many bills how do you decide which one to pay and which one to just sit there?”

Jesus told us what the single largest bill was that we have would have to pay when he said, “What will it profit a person to gain the whole world, and lose their soul.” What is the price of your soul?

What would you accept as the price of your soul if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a heaven and a hell which lasts for eternity? Suppose God took you to both for 5 minutes each. How many of you would say, “for $150 million dollars, I will gladly spend 30 years being rich in this life, and then spend eternity in hell with all its pain and suffering.” Do you have more important bills than where you and your loved ones will spend eternity?

We are becoming a church in which we value the souls of men, women and children. We want to be that place, where Jesus is in the business of saving souls. That’s why we have our 50/50 goal of 50 new members and 50 new souls saved which is standing at 7/5. Jesus gave us a new commandment and a marching commandment in the pursuit of souls. The first was to love one another as he has loved us and the second was to go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.

The commandments of Jesus cost money. This is the bill that the church has been given to pay. Everybody in the church has been given a share of the bill by God. Somebody in the past paid their portion of the bill and that’s why we are believers in Christ today. Some paid with their lives to get us the gospel. Others gave all they had to provide us with the opportunity to save those coming behind us.

Conclusion: no matter the position we are today let us remember our yesterday, and whoever we have the opportunity to help, especially the Children of God and to the service of God we are doing it for our heavenly home, knowing that our home is not here because as rain fall here, trees also fall. But in our home above it is always rain of blessing joy peace and everlasting pleasure and no tree will fall there. So as we journey here on Earth we always remember that God has put us where we are, thrn put him and his work in our budget and show him that he is the source of our blessing and we must bless him back and bless his children. May God help us in Jesus name.

What Does The Bible Say Will Happen Right After Death

Does the Bible tell us what happens right after death?

An Appointment

The Bible speaks a lot about life and death and we are given two choices by God as it says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deut 30:19), so we must be “loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut 30:20). We can either repent and trust in Christ or face God’s judgment after we die or at Christ’s return. Either way, those who reject Christ die with the wrath of God on them (John 3:36). The author of Hebrews wrote, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27), so we know that a judgment comes after a person dies, but if we have trusted in Christ, our sins were judged at the cross and our sins have been taken away because it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21). Every one of us has an appointment with death and none of us know when that day will come, so today is the day of salvation if you have not yet placed your faith in Christ (2nd Cor 6:2).

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Jesus gives us a story about a rich man and Lazarus, a very poor man called a beggar, but this is not the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John. Lazarus was a very common name in the first century, and the Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead wasn’t the poor beggar mentioned in Luke chapter 16 because Lazarus’ sisters were Martha and Mary, so Jesus is speaking about an entirely different Lazarus in Luke 16 than the one in John 11. Luke wrote “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21), but “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side”(Luke 16:22-23). There is no indication that the rich man had to wait to be tormented but immediately “called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame’” (Luke 16:24), however Abraham didn’t have good news for the rich man and told him, “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us” (Luke 16:26). In other words, he cannot leave that place of torment because it is too late.

The Judgment

After death, the rich man in Luke 16 went into what the Hebrew says in the Old Testament is Sheol which simply means “the place of the dead” and the equivalent in the New Testament is where the rich man ended up, in Hades. Hades is which is also called “a place of the dead,” but there were already flames of torment after he had died. He didn’t have to wait for the second resurrection of the dead (Rev 20:12-15) as the rich man was immediately in torment, but not yet cast into the lake of fire (Rev 21:8). In the same way, after a Christian dies, they are immediately in the presence of the Lord, but that doesn’t necessary mean heaven. To me, heaven is being in the Lord’s presence more than it is a place. The Apostle Paul tells us that “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2nd Cor 5:6), and we also “know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2nd Cor 5:1) and “what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2nd Cor 5:4).

One Moment After Death

From what the Bible teaches, we know that in the very next moment after death, the children of God are with the Lord Jesus Christ, but for those who died in their sins, they will die with the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36b) and be in a place of torment like the rich man was in Luke 16. The man still had memory because he said to Abraham, “I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28), but Abraham told him this wasn’t possible (Luke 16:29-31). So one moment after an unsaved person dies, they are already in torment and can experience physical pain (Luke 16:23-24) but also have mental anguish and regret (Luke 16:28), but by then, it is far too late. That’s why today is the day of salvation, because tomorrow may be too late if Christ returns or you die without trusting in Christ. Eventually, all will be physically resurrected with their bodies, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2-3).

Conclusion

Read what happens after the King of king’s returns to judge the unsaved in Revelation 20:12-15: “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” For those who have been born twice (a physical birth and a spiritual birth) they will die only once, but if a person is only born once (physically), they will die twice; once in the body and next in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8), therefore, choose life

Four Seasons” of a Believer’s Life.

First Love

I remember when I was first saved that I was so head-over-heels in love with God that I was almost consumed by it. Do you remember when you were first saved? Can you remember how you were so “on fire” for God? I do and that’s the very first season of a believer’s life in Christ. When Jesus spoke to the different churches in the Book of Revelation, He told the church at Ephesus,“I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:4-5). Lost that first love? Repent and “do the works you did at first” when you were “all in” for Christ.

Milk to Solid

The Apostle Paul also spoke to the churches and specifically here, to the church at Corinth and told them, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready” (1st Cor 3:2). The author of Hebrews adds, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food” (Heb 5:12). When we are first saved, we receive the precious milk of the Word, but after we start maturing, we’re ready for more solid food or to dig deeper into the Word of God. By now, most of us should be ready for solid food.

Student to Teacher

After we’ve been a Christian for a time, we have been on the solid food of the Word of God and after we’ve lived the Christian life for a time, now we have both the Word and Christian experience to teach those who are younger in the faith. Paul writes that “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4). Have you reached this stage yet? If so, we need you to help the younger believer’s in Christ move from milk to solid food.

Experience and Wisdom

Now that you have been saved and grown from feeding on the milk of the Word to the meat of the Word, you ought to be teachers by now. The experience and wisdom is invaluable to those new in the faith, but something very important needs to be mentioned. Paul tells Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2nd Tim 1:5), so “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2nd Tim 1:6).

Conclusion

When we are first saved, we have that stage where we’re passionately in love with the things of God and with God Himself, then we start on the milk, growing up into maturity until we’re able to start eating the solid food of the Word. This should move us into a stage where we start teaching the younger believers, but don’t forget and abandon “the love you had at first,” and if you’ve lost it, repent and seek Him again, first and foremost (Matt 6:33).

May God richly bless you.

Three Things That Jesus Said That might Surprise You. 

Hating Father and Mother

Jesus must have shocked many that day when He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Did Jesus mean that we’re to hate our parents, our spouse, our children, and our brothers and sisters? Aren’t we to love one another? Well, let’s put it this way. I love chocolate ice cream, and I hate (by comparison) vanilla. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat vanilla because if you put chocolate topping on it, I can tolerate it. What Jesus is saying is that our love for Him should look in contrast or in comparison to what we feel for our family, like that of hating them. That is, we must love God first and then, later down the line, love our neighbor. Jesus gives us a better grasp on this statement by saying, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:37). To love Christ is to love Him much, much more than anyone, including our family.

Kill Them in front of Me

In Luke 19 Jesus said, “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). Wow! Isn’t that sort of strong Jesus? No, not really. I witnessed to a man who said that he was waiting on deciding to believe in Christ. He said that he is on the fence right now, but I warned him that the fence will also be cast into hell because no decision or to be indecisive is to choose to reject the King, and that will not go well on Judgment Day (Rev 20:12-15). Jesus was clear about this, saying, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt 12:30). You cannot be undecided about Jesus because if you’re not for Him or you’ve made no decision for Him, then you are against Him and He is against you. To reject the King is to be an enemy of the King, and they will be slain before Him.

I Bring a Sword

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matt 10:34). Trusting in Christ truly does divide families. Near the end of His ministry, Jesus was grieved that most rejected Him, and He knew what was to be the end of Jerusalem and all who lived there when it was destroyed in AD 70. “As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41-44). Really Jesus? “To dash their children and them to the ground?” Wow! However, it wouldn’t be Jesus or God doing this, but the Romans as their judgment for rejecting Jesus as their Savior and King. He was actually being merciful and trying to warn them, but the reason Jesus wept was because He knew the vast majority would reject Him as their only possible hope.

Conclusion

Jesus spoke some very hard words because in Judea at that time there were some very hard hearts. Hard words can soften hearts, while soft words can only harden hearts. These sayings might surprise you, but these hard words were for their own good, and they are for those who have still yet rejected Christ, but He says them so that they might repent and trust in Him, thereby avoiding the wrath of God

Spiritual Warfare Tactics That The Enemy Uses That you Need To Know About.

Putting on the Armor

Paul warns us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12) which is why he tells us that we must “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph 6:13).

The spiritual armor includes 5 things that are needed and these 5 things correspond to at least 5 ways that the enemy tries to take us down.

An Assault on the Truth

The Enemy loves to mix truth with error and even a half-truth is a whole lie so beware of false ideas or teachings of those who appear to be a minister or an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14-15).  Place everything against the Word of God to see if it is true or not which is why Paul said that part of the armor is “having fastened on the belt of truth” (Eph 6:14a) and truth is found only in the Bible.

Compromising with Sin

Wicked spirits love it when we try to justify our sin.  Many that have tried to do this have used what I call “proof texting” methods.  That is they take a text out of context in order to make a false pretext by teaching or believing that “the Bible doesn’t really call that (whatever it is) sin.”  Beware of such methods which is why Paul said part of our armor should be “the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:14b) which means that we are to strive to live a holy life and not compromise on sin because God doesn’t.

Another Gospel

We need to be aware that there is “the” gospel and other so-called gospels which Paul says are really no gospel at all (2 Cor 11:4).   All too often you’ll hear gospels that tell you that you should be doing certain things to complete your salvation but if you add one drop of poison to a bottle of spring water, it renders all of it as deadly so this is why Paul instructs believers to “put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) because works + salvation = nothing but Christ + nothing = eternal life (Eph 2:8-9).

An Attack on your Faith

Jude writes to “have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 1:22) because many of us have doubts from time to time which is why Paul says we are to “take up the shield of faith” which the Enemy is constantly firing fiery darts at so this “shield of faith” is so that “you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph 6:16).

Attacking our Mind

For many believers, their mind is frequently being assaulted by the Enemy by trying to put negative thoughts into our minds which is why we are told to “take the helmet of salvation” and put it on and then take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17).  Why is the helmet used?  Because it protects the head and our knowledge of God and the sword, which is the Word of God can be used to guard our minds with the immutable promises and truth of God.  The more you stick your head in the Word the more the Word sticks in your head.  Our knowledge of God’s promises are guarded by His Word and the more you read it, the more you can strengthen this “helmet of salvation” and having more and more reassurance of just how firm God’s Word is that you are saved (John 6:37, 39; John 10:28-29) and nothing, including death, life, rulers, angels, powers, things now or to come, or no created thing can ever separate you from God’s love (Rom 8:37-39) because we’ve read there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).  That’s one strong helmet of salvation, isn’t it?

IDOLS IN THE CHURCH.


Being Relevant

I actually heard one pastor say that “we can’t be preaching the Bible to people in the world because it’s not relevant to them.” What!? I have to admit, I was angered by that. Isn’t the gospel the power of salvation (Rom. 1:16)? Does this pastor think he has more power than the word of God to save? Has he invented a better way than the Spirit of God mixed with the Word of God making the children of God? I think he’s the one who’s irrelevant. The Word of God never needs changing; it abides forever (1 Pet. 1:25). These churches that don’t want to offend people are more interested in filling the pews than filling people with the Word of God. Sorry, milk-toast pastor, but the Word is supposed to cut in order to heal because soft words make hard hearts, but hard words make soft hearts, and the Word of God is supposed to comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable. Pragmatism is deadly as a doctrine. Feelings over faith is toxic.

Self-Improvement

This comes close to being found in every prosperity gospel I have ever heard. They want you to come to their church so that your life will be better and you’ll be happier, but I have news for them. My life got harder after I became a Christian. Many of my former friends spurned me. Much of my family thought I was brainwashed. Some sermon topics are “How to Live a Happier Life” or “How You Can Find More Fulfillment.” Excuse me, but isn’t worship all about God and His glory? What about preaching about repentance, sin, the cross, the blood of the Lamb, holiness, sanctification, and actual biblical topics? Instead of love for God being taught, it’s all about love for self. It’s not theology but “me-ology” they are preaching. Christ is not the focus; we are.

We’re All God’s Children

Pluralism has extended its deadly tentacles into the modern churches. No, not all of them, but the idea that we should embrace other religions is a false notion and one from many modern churches. The bumper sticker that reads “coexist” sounds nice, but try telling that to the extremists of Islam, who continuously murder Christians around the world. We are not all God’s children. Some are clearly children of the Devil, which is what Jesus told the religious authorities in His day (John 8:44), and John wrote that “we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are” (1 John 3:10). Once, when Paul and Barnabas were opposed by Elymas the sorcerer, who tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith (Acts 13:8), Paul told him, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery” (Acts 13:10).

Bonus Content

Pastors & Preachers

Once a pastor gets to full of himself and starts believing his own stuff, God may be finished with him, at least for a while, until he repents, but it’s so easy to get caught up in a person who pastors a large church or preaches great sermons and is on TV and radio. Far too often the pastor of a great megachurch becomes bigger than Jesus Christ. They start making it about them and motivating people with persuasively powerful speeches and drumming up human emotion to make people to commit to Christ, but it rarely sticks. Then, they come dangerously close to putting him on a pedestal and almost worshiping him rather than God. When the pastor becomes too big in his own eyes and in the eyes of people, you’ve got a modern day idol and one of the top ones in Christianity.

Enlarge my Border

There are so many stories of shattered lives where people have sent in their “seeds of faith” only to end up broke, and brokenhearted, as well as having their faith shipwrecked. One of the idols of Christianity is the “speak it” into being faith that some have carried too far. If you have enough faith, there’s a miracle in your mouth. Just agree with God about something, and it is done, but rarely is God’s will mentioned, and that’s what Jesus said we should pray for above all. It’s fine to ask God to bless you, but if it’s always focused on enlarging your own borders, many of whom quote an Old Testament verse (out of context, of course), then we’re not praying for the right thing. The one verse they take out of context as a proof text for asking God to enlarge their borders, is actually a warning to Israel after they’ve already enlarged their borders and they’ll go into captivity for disobedience (Ex 34:24).

Bible Translations

Funny how we can make the Bible an idol, but it happens. Some claim to be “King James Only Christians,” while other are “Red Letter Christians” which means red letter Bibles where Jesus’ words are in read and that’s all they will read. Then there’s the multitude of other Bible translations and people slamming others for reading the NIV, the NLT, and even the King James Version, but whatever translation someone likes, it can become an idol when we look down at others who have translations that we don’t like. I use the ESV but love the NASB, but I don’t get into arguments over which is best.

Conclusion

Can you leave a comment about other false idols that are infiltrating many churches today? I can cover only six here, and I know that the focus is shifting toward the self, toward being pragmatic or favoring what people want to hear and a tickling of ears. In Paul’s last letter before his execution, he warned Timothy that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I fear that time has come.

Seven short Christian prayers that we need to stop saying. 

My Will Be Done

God’s will is always done, even if bad things are happening to us (Rom. 8:28) so we should pray for His will and not our will to be done. God’s will cannot be altered or changed by human activity but God can even use the evil actions by men for His good (Gen. 50:20). So even in man’s scheming and wickedness, the will of God is never hindered and is always done. In other words, He can use evil to accomplish His will even though He is not the source of that evil. If you look at the cross, you see the greatest travesty of justice ever, yet God used that great evil to redeem a people for Himself by means of the Redeemer. We can pray for our will, but God’s will is going to be done anyway.  More importantly, we should pray for God’s will to be done in our life over our own will and that means we will be doing what is the will of God. Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5).  Pray for God’s will to be done and then do it to the best of your knowledge.

Forgiveness for the Same Sin

First John 1:9 has brought a lot of comfort to a lot of people, as it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It doesn’t say He forgives us if we keep asking for forgiveness for one particular sin. Even if we commit a terrible sin, our sin is never greater than our Savior. We don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness for the same sin. Imagine you’re a parent and your child comes to you and apologizes for breaking the lamp. The next day he or she apologizes for the very same thing, day after day. The parent would finally say, “Hey, that’s been forgiven. You don’t need to keep bringing it up. Don’t you trust that I’ve forgiven you?” Do you see the connection between the earthly father and our heavenly Father in that story?

Praying for God’s Wrath

What I mean by praying for God’s wrath is that we should not be praying for harm to come to our enemies. Remember the so-called Sons of Thunder who asked to have fire come down out of heaven and consume the Samaritan village that had just rejected Jesus and His message (Luke 9:54). At this remark, Jesus “turned and rebuked them” (Luke 9:57) and told them that’s not the way we react. You and I are told to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom. 12:14), not call fire down from heaven! “Repay no one evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17), “but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). On the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom. 12:20). In other words, let his or her conscience bring them to repentance, but leave justice up to God.

The Rock and the Hammer

Sometimes when we pray for people who are lost, we pray for their problems to be solved. They might be going through financial problems, relationship difficulties, or health issues. Instead of praying that they would have all their problems solved, why not pray for God to use these trials to draw them unto Himself. When we try to solve our lost friends and family members’ problems, we might be getting between the rock (the crisis) and the hammer (God’s hand). I am not saying don’t help people, but pray these problems bring them to God so that they might have everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

Bonus Content

Stop the Persecution

I can’t remember hearing missionaries request prayers for their persecution to stop. They know that it’s to be expected. The Apostle Peter said don’t “be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1st Pet 4:12-13). The truth is, every time the early church was persecuted, it grew (Acts 8:1-4). Persecution always spreads the church, not stop it, so don’t pray for persecution to stop, but for it to glorify God and spread His church. Of course we should pray for their safety and other persecuted Christians around the world, but persecution should be expected, and God can use evil for good (Gen 50:20).

Stop this Person

Some people just naturally rub the fur the wrong way, and I do too I’m sure, but some people have real enemies in their life and that person constantly bullies them, makes fun of them, and might even sabotage their work. You can understand why it’s tempting for us to pray for God to take them out of our life. They might be our boss, our neighbor, or even a family member, and they sometimes badger people for their faith or the way they dress, or the car the drive, or the job they have. Instead of praying for God to take them away, pray for God to use this person’s evil for good, as in the case of Joseph’s brothers mistreating him (Gen 50:20). Peter tried to stop Christ from going to the cross; aren’t you glad he failed? Woodrow Kroll said “Cherish your enemies; they might be a blessing in disguise.”

Praying and Doing

If someone is looking for a job and they sit by the telephone and pray for God to make it ring, that’s probably not going to work. Instead, we ought to pray for our need before God, and then get up and start moving and see what we ourselves can do. God often works through other people, so ask for help, speak up, and ask others to pray for you. When we’ve done all we can, that’s when God can do all He can. It’s good to pray when we’re in need, but it likely takes action on our part too, and if we do our part, only then might God do His.  The saying, “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible, but the principle is there.

Conclusion

It is so easy to pray “Christianese” and not in plain language that is easy to understand. Some of the best prayers I’ve ever heard were from children because they prayed from the heart and weren’t concerned with what others thought of their words. They were honest, sincere, and genuine, and God will hear and answer those types of faith-based prayers.

Here are 5 bad habits that mature Christians leave behind in the walk with Christ. 

Separation from Sin

When a person becomes a new creation or creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) they begin to turn away from the former sinful activities of their life. They slowly change their desires from that of pleasing the flesh to that of obedience to God and pleasing Him. As you know, it doesn’t happen overnight and it typically takes a long time to overcome some bad habits because our old sinful nature doesn’t go down without a fight. Paul still struggled with the flesh, writing “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Rom 7:19) so we must not grow discouraged because the very fact we’re in a struggle over sin is a sign that God’s Spirit is working in us.

Separation from Sinners

Peter wrote that “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles (as we used to) want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1st Pet 4:3) but when we stop doing these things with our friends “they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1st Pet 4:4) because of that. Those former sins that we used to do, we do no more as Paul wrote “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1st Cor 6:11).

Separation from Assumptions

When Paul wrote that love “believes all things” (1st Cor 13:7) he didn’t mean that we believe everything we’re told but that when we are loving, we give people the benefit of the doubt. I once witnessed to a man who was a heavy smoker before I went into our church’s Bible study. I know I must have reeked of cigarette smoke and I could tell from the looks of some people that they were thinking “The pastor has been smoking” but they didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt so I told them that I had just been witnessing to a man who was lost and apologized for smelling a little smoky. I am sure a few people felt convicted for judging me unfairly over that. I am not saying that smoking is an unforgivable sin. No, my point is that we should give people the benefit of the doubt and not make assumptions about others. I knew a pastor once who smelled like alcohol but I came to find out that someone he had been speaking with accidently spilled some beer on him. You see my point, I am sure.

Separation from the World

When we become a child of God, we leave the ways of the world behind us. We become separated from the world but that doesn’t mean that we join a monastery and end up in seclusion as a monk. We are still in the world but not of the world. We separate ourselves from the system that the world runs by. No longer do we indulge in the things of the world but we feed on the Word of God. We are separate from the world, even while we are still living in the world, if that makes sense.

Separation from Pride

God will resist us if we have pride since God “is opposed to the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). Isaiah wrote that “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). We have no reason to boast (Eph 2:8-9) except only in Christ and His work at Calvary.

Conclusion

God tells His people to come out of her (the world) as in Revelation 18:4 which says “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” and even Paul writes “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2nd Cor 6:17) so we leave behind the sin we used to dive into, even though we might stumble into it occasionally; we leave behind the sinners we used to run with; we leave behind making false assumptions; we leave behind the ways of the world; and we leave behind the old pride-filled heart and humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God (1st Pet 5:6).

Four Ways To Resist Temptation.

Flee from Temptation

It’s like the old movie “Forest Gump”: When temptation comes, “Run, Forest, Run.” When we are tempted, we must run from it as fast as we can. We should think like Job did, who wrote, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin” (Job 31:1). This might mean turning off the TV or switching channels, putting on an Internet filer or rating your browser to “G” images (which I have done). In this way, any sexually explicit images are filtered out and you never see them in the first place. The eye gate is a broad path that can allow temptation to enter, and the temptation, if not resisted, bears the fleshly fruit of sin. When you are tempted to sin, flee from that source or person doing the tempting (which is often the case) and make a covenant with God to not even look at it. Some helpful Bible verses are found in 1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; and 2 Timothy 2:22.

Pray Your Way Out

This might sound way too simple, but it’s biblical and was part of that which Jesus taught the disciples in their learning how to pray in Matthew 6:13 where He said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Having a daily relationship with God in prayer is essential because you are fighting three things in resisting temptation: the world, the flesh, and Satan and his demons.

Hide His Word in Your Heart

Memorizing Scripture is a potent weapon in resisting temptation. When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, what did He do? He quoted Bible verses back to Satan. This is why Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). There is real power in the Word of God, so why not tap it?

Know Your Weaknesses

We all have an Achilles’ heel, meaning that every one of us has vulnerable spots. Many of these might be the same as others, but each of us has probably one area that we are most susceptible. For some it might be alcohol, for others perhaps drugs. Yet for others it could be pornography. We must learn our weakest areas and determine not to go there and to avoid going to places where that sin or substance might be more available. On one side of my family, they like to smoke pot, and on the other side, they drink alcohol, so during get-togethers, like family reunions, I have to be very careful. I bring my own bottled water or coffee so I can say, “No, thanks, I brought my own water/coffee. Thanks anyway.”

Conclusion

If we are in the Word every day and memorize Bible verses, this will really help us to avoid being tempted too often. Sin will keep you out of the Bible, but the Bible will keep you out of sin. The more we avoid being tempted, the more we avoid sinning. We are only as strong as our weakest link, so pray.

3 Ways To Tap God’s Power Through Prayer

Finding God’s Will

When you find God’s will, you will find just what you need to pray for. In other words, since we know that it’s God’s will that others be saved, just as the Apostle Paul wrote that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1st Tim 2:4), then you are praying according to God’s will (Matt 6:10). We know that God’s will is that all people would be saved, so when you pray for God to save someone, we can tap God’s potent power knowing that it’s God’s will and God will hear and answer those prayers. That doesn’t mean everyone who we pray for will be saved, but we know God desires us to witness to those who are lost so that they might be saved. If you pray according to God’s will, you can unleash God’s power.

Praying in Faith

James writes that “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b), and that power is unleashed by God in response to our faith in His ability to answer it. This is not a “name it and claim it” faith where we ourselves command things to be done because we pray to God, but a prayer that trusts God and His answer, even if it’s different from what we prayed for. James says that the prayers must be from a“righteous person,” and whoever believes in Christ has had Jesus’ righteousness imputed toward them (2nd Cor 5:21), so if we’ve trusted in Christ and have faith in God, believe while you pray that God will answer it.

Seeking His Glory

Jesus told us to pray in His name so that His name would be glorified. The Father is always seeking to glorify Jesus Christ’s name, so when we pray, pray in Jesus’ name and that His name will be glorified. There is one important point though; we must be abiding in Christ because, as Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Of course, it must be according to the will of God and must be a prayer prayed in faith, but if we seek to glorify Jesus’ name by prayer, when we receive the answers to our prayers, Jesus’ name will be glorified because it was in His name that we prayed.

Conclusion

There are other ways that we can tap God’s power through prayer. Can you help us find a few others? For sure we know that our prayers should be in alignment with God’s will; we should be praying with believing faith; and we must be seeking to glorify Jesus’ name in our prayers, because nothing else matters but the glory of God